This year my main efforts have concentrated around Salford Priors however some how I’ve managed to add an amazing 29 birds to my UK life list. To try and pick out just ten is difficult as I don’t select my favourites in terms of rarity, for me is about the bird and the experience of seeing it.
Those that didn’t make the list include American Golden Plover (Leicestershire), Blyth’s Reed Warbler (Norfolk), Ferruginous Duck (Gloucestershire), Greater Yellowlegs (Hampshire-pictured), Gull-billed Tern (Devon), Hudsonian Whimbrel (Hampshire), Isabelline Shrike (Norfolk), Laughing Gull (Lancashire) , Long-eared Owl (Lancashire) , Melodious Warbler (West Midlands), Wood Lark (Hampshire), Pied Billed Grebe (South Gloucestershire) , Red-backed Shrike (East Yorkshire) , Ring-billed Gull (Lancashire) , Semipalmated Sandpiper (Gloucestershire), Dusky Warbler (Somerset), Spotted Sandpiper (Herefordshire), Wilsons Phalarope (Essex) and Red-neck Phalarope(Gloucestershire).
10) Black Stork (September – East Yorkshire) An Autumn trip to Spurn reaped dividends when we found the juvenile Black Stork at the strangely named Sunk Island. Stourport Dave produced the goods when getting permission from the local famer which enabled us to get fantastic views.
9) Pallid Harrier (December – Norfolk) A great bird to add to my life list so late in the year. Whilst the views weren't for long it was a pleasure to see this graceful Harrier.
8) Hudsonian Godwit (May – Somerset) The Hudwit sent twitchers flying to Somerset to see this rare migrant. Thankfully my patience of not going in the initial rush resulted in a great day and able to watch the bird without the hassle of a major twitch.
7) Sabine’s Gull (August – Greater Manchester) This little beauty was showing at very close quarters allowing everyone mind blowing views. The gull was even feeding from bread from the burger van who seemed to appreciate the increase in trade.
6) Shore Lark (December – Norfolk) Is a species on my most wanted listed at the start of year so to finally see them on Norfolk coast was awesome. I could have gladly stayed there all day.
5) Wryneck (August – Oxfordshire) Was another from my most wanted list that I’d never had any luck with in previous years. Otmoor delivered the goods on a Saturday afternoon however the bird was good at hide and seek. A cracking bird to see.
4) Penduline Tit (March – Devon) I’d heard these stunners were difficult to see however I most deinatley had a stroke of luck as soon as I arrived the birds were feeding within 6 feet of me enabling me to get some cracking photos.
3) Olive-backed Pipit (October – Norfolk) A pipit in top 3 ! I was really taken a back by this find. The colouring on the bird was just stunning and really stood out in the habit on Muckleburgh hill.
2) Crag Martin (November – Derbyshire) The Crag Martin toyed with birders at times however I fluked great views of the Martin at the Stadium and then around the famous Crocked Spire. The Spire and the moody autumnal sky were stunning. It was also great that one of my photos was picked out to head line the weekly RBA newsletter.
1) Black-eared Wheatear (June – Hampshire) Best bird of the year and luckiest bird of the year. We were only in this area as we had seen the Hudosian Whimbrel & Greater Yellowlegs. As we arrived at the Yellow legs fellow gravel pit birder Mark told us about the Wheatear. What a stunner! An awesome day with us also getting great views of Dartford Warblers.
Closest twitch to home Award – The best bird closest to home was for sure the Melodious Warbler located near Hampton in Arden, close to the NEC. Twitching warblers can be very problematic however this beauty delighted audiences every day it was present.